Yesterday, it was announced that former Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, and Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks was officially retiring from baseball at the young age of 30 years old.
Upon debuting in 2012, Middlebrooks made his presence felt right away. While filling in for the injured Kevin Youkilis, Middlebrooks hit .288 with 15 home runs and an .835 OPS. His immediate success was part of the reason that fan favorite Youk was shipped out of Boston that season. The Sox front office was convinced that they had found themselves their third baseman of the future; He was only 23 years old and had put up Rookie of the Year worthy statistics in less than half of a full season.
Then 2013 rolled around and everything fell apart for Middlebrooks. Even though he could still hit for power, hitting a career high 17 home runs, his average dropped to .227, the strike out numbers climbed, and his defense sucked. Things got so bad for Middlebrooks that the Sox decided to roll with the 20 year old Xander Bogaerts down the stretch and in a majority of Boston’s playoff games. Although, Middlebrooks did make it into one World Series game, and it was that game.
Yes, one of the strangest endings to a playoff game of all time, let alone a World Series game, Will Middlebrooks was the primary culprit in an obstruction call that won the St Louis Cardinals game 3 in walk off fashion.
The next season, with his playing time continuing to decrease, along with his level of play, Middlebrooks played a part in the other thing he is most well known for; Jenny Dell leaving NESN.
If you don’t remember Jenny Dell as the Red Sox on field reporter A.) You’re too young to be reading this and B.) She was every Red Sox fans dream girl. Middlebrooks and Dell had been dating in secret for months during the 2013 season. By 2014, they were a known item. How did the NESN respond to one of their employees dating a member of the team she reports on? They took Dell off the air for the 2014 season, and she left the company later that year. I get that love is love and all that shit, and hell, if I were Will Middlebrooks I’d definitely date Jenny Dell too. But, through no fault of his own, Middlebrooks ruined the viewing experience for all male Red Sox fans that year. Bad form Will, bad form indeed.
Oh Jenny, we all miss you.
Anyways, after his love life led to a very public collapse of his girlfriends job and a frankly shit season for the team, the Red Sox unceremoniously traded Middlebrooks to the Padres for Ryan Hanigan. In San Diego, Middlebrooks continued to struggled in his one and only season with the club. The next year he played just 10 games with the Brewers, and the year after that 22 games with the Rangers. He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies before the 2018 season, got hurt, never played a game for the big league club, and retired.
The story of Will Middlebrooks is undeniably a sad one. Someone who got into the game with an incredibly hot start, who never was able to improve and move past his great rookie campaign. He lingered around just long enough to get sufficiently chewed up and spit out by the game before he really got on his feet.
At least Middlebrooks got that 2012 season and his 2013 ring. We all still remember him, just not for the right reasons.
Happy Retirement, Will. At least you get to come home to this everyday you lucky son of a bitch.
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